UNESCO World Heritage List:
Nea Paphos is one of the three components forming the Paphos archaeological complex inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Type of site:
Republic of Cyprus
Western Cyprus, Paphos District
Hellenistic and Roman periods (4th century BC–7th century AD)
Most interesting finds:
– Buildings with beautiful figural mosaics depicting Theseus in the labyrinth, Achilles’ bath, Poseidon and Amphitrite, armed Aphrodite, three Horae (goddesses of the seasons), mythological scenes in the triclinium of the House of Aion
– Wall paintings from the House of Aion depicting Apollo and the Muses
– Marble sculptures: Aphrodite brandishing a sword, head of Isis, as well as small statuettes: double Aphrodite, Asclepius with egg (Glycon?)
– Limestone sculpture: bust of the Dioscuri(?)
– Treasure of silver coins of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus
– Coin dies
– Intaglio of Legio XV Apollinaris
– Bone ring with a portrait of a Ptolemaic queen
– Set of terracotta votive objects found at the foot of the altar
– Colonnade of courtyard 1 of the “Hellenistic” House
– Tetrastyle of the western atrium of the “Hellenistic” House
History of research:
Dates of PCMA mission’s work:
Type of research:
– Kazimierz Michałowski (1965–1970)
– Wiktor Andrzej Daszewski (1971–2007)
– Henryk Meyza, Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences (2008–2019)
– Ewdoksia Papuci-Władyka (since 2019)
– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences (former Research Center for Mediterranean Archaeology PAS)
– Department of Antiquities, Cyprus
– Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University
– Faculty of Architecture, Wrocław University of Science and Technology
The site was chosen by Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski in 1963 in response to the invitation from the archaeological authorities of the newly-established Republic of Cyprus (1960). The team uncovered gradually the remains of residential buildings: first the Villa of Theseus, then the House of Aion (since 1983) and since 1986 the insula of the “Hellenistic” House. In 2002–2003 and 2007–2009, intensive archaeological work connected with the building of a protective covering was carried out, but the pavilion was never erected. In 2008–2016, research was conducted mainly in the area of the insula of the “Hellenistic” House.
Taking measurements and digitizing the plans was sponsored by the Warsaw Geodetic Enterprise. The mission was also supported by the Society of Enthusiasts of the History of Paphos (Cypriot NGO). The following grants were awarded for the research in Nea Paphos:
– E. Papuci-Władyka, OPUS 18: 2019/35/B/HS3/02296: MA-P Maloutena and Agora in the layout of Paphos: modelling the cityscape of the Hellenistic and Roman capital of Cyprus.
– M.M. Romaniuk, PRELUDIUM 16: 2018/31/N/HS3/03319: Water in Nea Paphos. A study of water infrastructure from the residential area (Maloutena) of the Hellenistic-Roman capital of Cyprus.
– M. Więch, PRELUDIUM 13: 2017/25/N/HS3/02910: Early Roman cooking vessels from the residential district of Nea Paphos – in the light of typological, archaeometric and functional studies.
– J. Mikocka, PRELUDIUM 10: 2015/19/N/HS3/00907: Studying the architecture of the late Roman insula in the Maloutena district in Nea Paphos (Cyprus) using new documentation methods.
– A. Dobosz, SONATA 9: 2015/17/D/HS3/00245: With Dionysus and Hermes in ancient Nea Paphos – transport amphorae and their contents, and regional production and economy of the city in the Hellenistic period.
– E. Marzec – Visiting research scholarship Mobility Plus.
Description of the site and research:
The city of Nea Paphos was founded at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, presumably by the last king of independent Paphos, Nikokles, or by Ptolemy I. It is not certain whether the street grid was rectangular from the beginning, but it would have been in accordance with the custom of the era. First stone buildings were erected at the end of the 4th century BC. The few earlier remains of mud-brick architecture might be connected to the former settlement of Erythrai. The architecture of Nea Paphos underwent significant changes with time; the modifications from the beginning of the Roman period are the best recognized.
Polish archaeological work in the city started with the digging of test trenches in the spot where marble statues of Asclepius and Artemis had been found on the surface /Figs 12, 13/, as well as marking out a long test trench in the southern part of the site. When the area of exploration was extended, the team discovered a north-western corner of a large courtyard. The research concentrated on finding the west and south wings of the building and its south-eastern corner. It was then that the mosaic of Theseus was discovered. Further mosaics were uncovered in the south wing, the representative part of the building that was named the Villa of Theseus after the hero depicted on the first mosaic.
After determining the size of the courtyard, it was possible to start work in selected parts of the building (including the east-west axis) and to find the entrance. Next, the team began to “fill the gaps” in the presumed area of the Villa and left most of the courtyard uninvestigated. In 1982, a fragment of a border strip of a figurative mosaic was found in a small sondage to the east of the street adjoining the structure. In the following years, especially in 1983, a large mosaic with a central figure of Aion, the god of time and eternity, was uncovered /Figs 9, 10/, and later, a large part of a building which became known as the House of Aion /Fig. 8/. In 1986, work was started to the south of the Villa of Theseus, which occupied the northern part of an insula. Another building, called the “Hellenistic” House, was discovered there.
The “Hellenistic” House was destroyed by an earthquake, but parts of it were preserved. Thus, it was possible to reconstruct the eastern portico of the main courtyard and one of the columns belonging to the western tetrastyle courtyard (probably originally an atrium). The rest of the insula was occupied by the Roman House (south-western part) and the Early Roman House (eastern part).
In 2002–2003 and 2007–2009, intensive excavation work was conducted in preparation for the building of a roof cover over much of the site. The project was abandoned due to the financial crisis in Cyprus. Currently, the archaeological research is focused on the early phases of the central part of the “Hellenistic” House’s insula, preceding its destruction in an earthquake at the end of the 1st or the beginning of the 2nd century AD.
The area of excavations includes three main buildings, the largest of which, the Villa of Theseus /Fig. 1/, covered in its heyday three whole insulae and considerable parts of three others, located to the east. The south-western of the completely incorporated insulae features the buildings of the Villa in its northern part. In its southern part, numerous relics of earlier structures have been preserved. The insula’s transformation in its final phase of existence resulted in the establishment of at least three houses: the Early Roman House in the east, the House of the Dioscuri (so named because of the bust found inside) in the central part /Fig. 2/, and the “Hellenistic” House in the west.
The latter was the largest and multi-storied, featuring a small bath with a hypocaust and a spacious room with a mosaic floor. The central courtyard was enclosed by columns (and presumably engaged columns) of various height and in four different styles /Fig. 4/: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and so-called Nabatean. The last two were very tall, perhaps making it possible to build a first story above the lower porticoes. A garden probably grew in the courtyard. The western courtyard, with the floor level lower by 1.6 m, was originally an atrium. After the bath was constructed to the south of it, it was presumably transformed into an area where water was stored in two cisterns.
The section of the northern part of the building which stood on higher ground was destroyed during the construction of the Villa of Theseus as the lower-lying floors of the latter cut into the slope of the hill to the south. In places where the floor level of the “Hellenistic” House was lower, e.g., in the western part, further rooms can yet be discovered /Figs 6, 7/.
The Villa of Theseus was built in stages. The first one (from the end of the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd century AD) included the construction of a south wing with projections and a large portico closed on the western side by a basilical hall with an inner colonnade. The northern facade of the hall was adorned with projecting columns. It is uncertain whether the same solution was used for the eastern end of the portico. Already in this first phase, the Villa had at least a semi-public character, and it became increasingly important with subsequent modifications.
The final enlargement to the north took place in the second half of the 4th century AD. The south wing became part of a large peristyle courtyard measuring approximately 56 m by 56 m (including the porticoes). There were presumably interim stages of rebuilding, and in the 5th century AD, an entrance complex consisting of an atrium and a vestibule was added to the east wing. The north wing also underwent modifications at that time, with at least one row of rooms being built in the original courtyard. Baths were added in the north-eastern corner; in the last phase, they were separated from the Villa and furnished with an entrance in the eastern façade. After these modifications, the south wing retained its representative character, but the main reception room was rebuilt to reflect the late-antique ideology of power. The apse was enlarged and its floor level raised to put greater distance between the master of the house and his clients or subordinates. However, shortly after the building was transformed into a palatium, it was abandoned by the original inhabitants and occupied by “squatters”.
The insula of the House of Aion was created in the 4th century AD on the remains of the northernmost insula partly incorporated into the Villa. In the late phase of its existence, the building was further divided into two parts: the southern one (the House of Aion proper) and the northern one (the North-Eastern House) /Figs 8, 9, 10, 11/.
Team members participated in a program of studies of the pottery and small finds from more than 50 years of excavations by the PCMA UW project (in alphabetical order):
- Dr. Dobiesława Bagińska (Archaeological Museum in Poznań): Roman amphora studies, material from the 2011–2013 excavations;
- Dr. Aleksandra Brzozowska-Jawornicka (Wrocław University of Science and Technology): Nabatean-style architectural decoration from the 2011–2013 excavations;
- Dr. Agata Dobosz (Paphos Agora Project, Jagiellonian University Kraków): amphora stamps;
- Michalina Dzwoniarek-Konieczna (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences ;
- PhD candidate, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań): stone artifacts and stone use in architecture;
- Jacek Hamburg (independent): metal artifacts;
- Prof. Elżbieta Jastrzębowska (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences): painted wall decoration from the House of Aion;
- Prof. Barbara Lichocka (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences): coin studies;
- Dominika Majchrzak (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences): lead weights;
- Edyta Marzec (Post-Doc, Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens): Hellenistic Colour Coated Ware, archaeometric studies
- Dr. Henryk Meyza (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences): pottery and stratigraphy of the Villa of Theseus in Nea Paphos;
- Julia Mikocka (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; PhD candidate, NCN Preludium grant 2015/19/N/HS3/00907): architecture of the House of Aion;
- Marcin Romaniuk (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; PhD candidate): water-supply installations;
- Monika Więch (Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences; PhD candidate, NCN Preludium 2017/25/N/HS3/02910): cooking wares;
Season by season – “PCMA Newsletter”:
- 2018 season
- 2017 season
- 2016 season
- 2015 season
- 2014 season
- 2013 season
- 2012 season
- 2011 season
- 2010 season
- 2009 season
- 2008 season
- 2007 season
- 2006 season
2020-05 New grant for research on Nea Paphos
2019-09 New director of the Nea Paphos mission
2017-03 Conference “Decoration of Hellenistic and Roman buildings in Cyprus” (Warsaw)
2015-11 Scientific conference “Nea Paphos. 50 years of Polish excavations 1965–2015” (Warsaw)
2015-05 Exhibition “Nea Paphos. 50 years of Polish archaeological excavations 1965–2015” (Nicosia)
2011-12 Classica Orientalia. Essays Presented to Wiktor Andrzej Daszewski on his 75th Birthday
2011-01Pottery stamps from Nea Paphos – new book by professor Zofia Sztetyłło
2009 Exhibition in the Kazimierzowski Palace (University of Warsaw)
2007-09 Exhibition in the Gallery of the Archaeological Park celebrating 40 years of research (Nea Paphos)
Information in the media and popular science articles:
2015 Nauka w Polsce: 50-lecie polskich badań archeologicznych na Cyprze
2015 Nauka Online: Pół wieku w Nea Pafos
Meyza, H. (2019). A marmara plaque from Nea Paphos with Ganymedes abducted by an eagle, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 443–452
Brzozowska-Jawornicka A., (2018) In search of a Paphian lost circular building, SAAC 22 : 41–64
Jastrzębowska E. (2018) Wall paintings from the House of Aion at Nea Paphos. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 27/1, 527–597
Marzec E., Kiriatzi E., Müller N.S., Hein A., (2017)Provenance and technology of a group of Hellenistic Colour-Coated ware pottery from the excavations at Nea Paphos in Cyprus, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports (https://doi.org/10.2016/j.jasrep.2017,10.006);
Meyza H., Romaniuk M., Więch M., (2017) Nea Paphos. Seasons 2014 and 2016, 399-428, (appendices D. Mazanek-Somerlik, Glass from the HH Courtyard, 420-422 and M. Więch, Note on the Pottery from the Circular Basin S:1/16”, 397–426) Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 26/1,
Meyza, H. et al. (2015). Nea Paphos. Seasons 2012 and 2013. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 24/1, 443–452.
Meyza, H. et al. (2014). Nea Paphos: Seasons 2010 and 2011. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 23/1, 391–402.
Meyza, H. et al. (2012). Nea Paphos. Season 2009. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 21, 407–422.
Sztetyłło Z. (2010). Pottery stamps from Nea Paphos: excavations in 1990–2006 (=Nea Paphos 6, PAM Monograph Series 3). Warsaw: PCMA, Warsaw University Press.
Daszewski, W. A. et al. (2010). Nea Paphos: season 2007. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 19, 503–514.
Papuci-Władyka, E. (2008). Roman-period pottery from the eastern part of the Hellenistic House, Nea Paphos: 2006. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 18, 524–527.
Daszewski, W. A. et al. (2008). Nea Paphos: Season 2006. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 18, 507–517.
Daszewski, W. A. et al. (2007). Nea Paphos: Season 2005. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 17, 393–407.
Meyza, H. (2007). Cypriot red slip ware: studies on a Late Roman Levantine fine ware (=Nea Paphos 5). Warsaw: Neriton.
Daszewski, W. A. et al. (2004). Nea Paphos: Season 2003. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 15, 279–300.
Meyza, H. (2003). Nea Paphos: Season 2002. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 14, 255–261.
Daszewski, W. A. (2002). Nea Paphos: Season 2001. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 13, 237–240.
Daszewski, W. A. (2001). Nea Paphos: Season 2000. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 12, 293–294.
Daszewski, W. A. (2000). Odkrywanie antycznej stolicy Cypru: 35 lat polskich badań archeologicznych w Pafos (Uncovering the ancient capital of Cyprus: 35 years of Polish researches in Pafos). Warszawa: Uniwersytet Warszawski.
Daszewski, W. A. (2000). Nea Paphos: Season 1999. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 11, 229–233.
Daszewski, W. A. (1999). Nea Paphos: Excavations 1998. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 10, 163–173.
Daszewski, W. A. (1998). Nea Paphos: Excavations 1997. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 9, 119–129.
Daszewski, W. A. (1997). Nea Paphos: Excavations 1996. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 8, 113–121.
Daszewski, W. A. (1996). Nea Paphos: Excavations 1995. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 7, 91–99.
Daszewski, W. A. (1995). Nea Paphos 1994. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 6, 67–74.
Papuci-Władyka, E. (1995). Nea Pafos: studia nad ceramiką hellenistyczną z polskich wykopalisk (1965–1991). Rozprawy Habilitacyjne, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków.
Cypr w badaniach polskich: materiały z sesji naukowej zorganizowanej przez Centrum Archeologii Śródziemnomorskiej UW im. prof. K. Michałowskiego, Warszawa, 24–25 luty (1995).
Daszewski, W. A. (1994). Nea Paphos 1993. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 5, 101–110.
Daszewski, W. A. (1993). Nea Paphos 1992. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 4, 83–93.
Daszewski, W. A. (1992). Nea Paphos 1991. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 3, 59–67.
Medeksza, S. (1992). Willa Tezeusza w Nea Pafos: rezydencja antyczna. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Politechniki Wrocławskiej.
Daszewski, W. A. (1991). Nea Paphos 1990. Report. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 2, 78–84.
Daszewski, W. A. (1990). Nea Paphos 1989. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 1, 35–36.
Młynarczyk, J. (1990). Nea Paphos in the Hellenistic period (=Nea Paphos 3). Varsovie: Éditions Géologiques.
Daszewski, W. A. (1988). Guide to the Paphos mosaics. Nicosia: Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation.
Daszewski, W. A. (1977). La mosaique de Thésée: études sur les mosaiques avec représentations du labyrinthe, de Thésée et du Minotaure (=Nea Paphos 2). Varsovie: PWN Editions Scientifiques de Pologne.